Anchorage Assembly declines to confirm real estate director connected to whistleblower complaint

The Anchorage Assembly chambers at the Z. J. Loussac Public Library in Anchorage.
The Anchorage Assembly chambers at the Z. J. Loussac Public Library in Anchorage. (Staff photo)

The Anchorage Assembly has voted against confirming Mayor Dave Bronson’s pick for real estate director.

Jim Winegarner had been acting real estate director since Sept. 16. The vote was close, with five members in support and five opposed at the Thursday night meeting. One member did not vote. Because it was a tie, the confirmation failed.

Members Jamie Allard, John Weddleton, Pete Petersen, Crystal Kenedy and Felix Rivera voted in favor of Winegarner. Members Suzanne LaFrance, Meg Zaletel, Forrest Dunbar, Austin Quinn-Davidson and Kameron Perez-Verdia opposed Winegarner’s confirmation. Member Chris Constant participated by phone and had a technical issue and did not vote on the confirmation.

Winegarner had been the subject of a whistleblower complaint from the city’s former real estate director. Christina Hendrickson filed the complaint, citing concerns that Winegraner was not properly hired as the housing director. She also alleged that the Bronson administration had moved Winegarner around several departments without following proper procedures. Hendrickson was fired from her position shortly after she made the complaint, and Winegarner was named as her replacement the same day.

RELATED: Anchorage’s former real estate director sues Bronson administration, claiming she was illegally fired for making whistleblower complaint

In a Facebook post, Mayor Bronson expressed his disappointment in the Assembly for not confirming Winegarner.

“Jim is beyond qualified for the position,” Bronson wrote. “Since the Assembly clearly no longer confirms based on professional qualifications, as required by Code, then what is their real motive?”

During the meeting, the Assembly approved Bradley Coy as the city’s traffic engineer. It also voted to postpone the confirmation votes on Health Director Joe Gerace and Solid Waste Services Director Daniel Zipay to its Nov. 9 meeting.

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Wesley Early covers municipal politics and Anchorage life for Alaska Public Media. Reach him at wearly@alaskapublic.org.

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